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Internet Communication

Series:

James W. Chesebro, David T. McMahan and Preston C. Russett

This textbook examines the Internet as a communication system – the single most pervasive, involving, and global communication system ever created by human beings, with a host of political, economic, cognitive, and sociocultural implications. The Internet crosses all cultural boundaries and is the fastest growing global communication system ever witnessed. The text explores the ways in which the technology of the Internet, beyond its specific content, possesses its own message-generating capabilities that dramatically and decisively affect its users. Focusing on the power of media theories, the text explains, describes, interprets, and evaluates the Internet in insightful, useful, and thoughtful ways. The concepts, processes, functions, and outcomes of the Internet as a global communication technology are used as a way of testing the validity and reliability of media theories, and media theories are used as a way of identifying the powers and limitations of the Internet as a communication system. An overview of the Internet’s past and anticipated future is provided
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3 The Past—The Development and Evolution of Digital Technologies

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3



The Past—The Development and Evolution of Digital Technologies

As we noted at the outset of Chapter 1, we remain convinced that the Internet is “now the largest and most pervasive global communication system ever created in the history of human beings, affecting more people in more ways than any other human invention.”1 Yet, it is difficult to identify all of those people and the related technologies that contributed to the development of the Internet.

We are not computer scientists nor are we professional historians. We are communication specialists focusing on the Internet as an extremely profound communication invention and technology. While some may be intrigued by the technical features of the Internet, such matters affect us only if they affect how people transmit and receive messages through the Internet. Certainly, we cannot remain indifferent to these “technical features,” for far too often they affect and determine how human beings can communicate with the Internet. Likewise, there is no question that different historical eras are more or less receptive to using technologies to communicate with other human beings. Indeed, we find such analyses particularly fascinating and intriguing.

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